Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

Jamadi Thani 1424 H
August 2003
Volume 16-08 No : 200
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Community Roundup


Hindus, Muslims Break Wall of Mistrust
Where will the Orphans go Mr Ambani?
Daughter Sold for Rs 40,000
Best Bakery Nightmare
Auto Driver Returns Mobile Phone
"Preserve Secular India", say Indian Muslims in US
Talimi Bedaari Campaign in Rajasthan
Obituary

Hindus, Muslims Break Wall of Mistrust

By M.Hanif Lakdawala

Ahmedabad: The floodgates of a new dawn opened for Moinuddin Khan Pathan. Walking from his residence in Sayed Wadi to Isanpur in the pre-dominantly Hindu neighbourhood of Vatva, he felt he had erased a wall of mistrust. “For the first time in my life, I felt I have been recognised as a true Indian by my Hindu brothers. They have eventually wiped out the boundary and accepted our locality as part of their society,” said Pathan with tears in his eyes. The boundary in question is an iron gate.

After last year’s communal carnage in Gujarat, huge gates came up around Hindu and Muslim dominated areas of Ahmedabad to keep at bay mobs from each other’s communities. Fear among the Hindus and Muslims led to iron gates being erected in as many as 13 places Vatva, Naroda, Rakhial, Bapunagar, Kalupur, Dariapur, Jamalpur, Shahpur, Saraspur, Gomtipur, Ramol, Meghaninagar and Amariwadi.

Recently, the 20-feet high iron gates in Sayed Wadi and Isanpur areas of Vatva were thrown open, and residents from the two neighbourhoods went over to the other side, greeting each other with warm hugs. The occasion was a meeting organised by the Sarva Dharma Quami Ekta Sadbhavana Samiti, a newly constituted conglomerate of voluntary groups devoted to communal harmony. “It was a challenge to break down the wall of mistrust between Hindu and Muslim localities,” said Iqbal Shaikh, the municipal corporator of Gomtipur. “After last year’s communal violence, people of different faiths had decided to live separately, cocooned in their respective localities.

But separatism only widened the gulf and deepened the mistrust, which was a hurdle in maintaining peace and harmony. So we decided to take this initiative,” he said. According to Shaikh, Sayed Wadi and Isanpur are just the beginning of a change. “The task is indeed very difficult, but we have made the beginning. Today residents of Sayed Wadi and Isanpur have realised, that by coming together they can at least grant each other the assurance of security. Now this initiative has to be carried forward to other communally sensitive neighbourhoods of Ahmedabad. Ramharshji Maharaj, the priest of the Jagannath temple in Jamalpur in eastern Ahmedabad, was in the picture too. Putting his hand around the shoulder of Mufti Abdulla, an Imam Maharaj said: “Muslims have been our brothers for centuries. Muslims in India are Indians and follow Indian culture. They are different from Muslims of the world.” Added Abdulla: “Muslims of India never supported India’s Partition. Since they loved India, they stayed here at the time of Partition. Today there is no meaning of such barricades between Hindus and Muslims. If the Berlin Wall can be pulled down, if East Germany and West Germany can be re-united, why can’t the iron gates between Hindus and Muslims of the same area be removed?”

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Where will the Orphans go Mr Ambani?

A Trust running an orphanage, recently sold off the orphanage premises to the Scion of the corporate world

By Mohammed Hanif

Mumbai: Time and again, the nexus of bureaucrats is encroaching on the rights and properties belonging to the deprived sections. In Mumbai, a Trust running an orphanage recently sold off the orphanage premises to the Scion of the corporate world.

But Minister-in-charge of the Waqf Board, Syed Ahmed, had spoken to the Reliance Group chairman Mukesh Ambani who has plans to build a house in Altamount Road. The minister says the Waqf Board and the state government had asked the state’s charity commissioner to transfer all properties belonging to Muslim charity organisations to the Waqf Board in 1998. “Despite the order, the charity commissioner, instead of transferring the property to the Waqf Board, went ahead and sold it to Mukesh Ambani, which is a clear violation of the rules. The charity commissioner had no right to sell a property that belonged to the Waqf board. “The newly-constituted Waqf board has stayed all such deals,” says Ahmed.

Ambani, bought a sprawling property in the South Mumbai locality that houses the country’s rich and famous. The property, spread over one acre, comprises an old bungalow where a private trust runs an orphanage. The deal was reportedly worth Rs 20 crore. But Syed Ahmed, minister of housing and the Waqf Board, said the deal has been stayed as it had “violated rules”. However, a spokesperson for Ambani told Islamic Voice that, all permission from the government and other authorities was in place for the transaction. Ambani had a different story to tell. “This piece of land never belonged to the Waqf Board, and so the question of getting the Board’s permission does not arise,” says a spokesperson for Ambani. The spokesperson said the land belonged to the Karimbhai Trust, which was running an orphanage. “They were looking for buyers and accordingly had advertised in newspapers and we were one of the bidders. We won as ours was the highest bid,” he said. The Waqf Board is not ready to buy Ambani’s argument. “The charity commissioner failed to perform his duty. Had he acted as per the decision, the land would have been in the Waqf Board’s possession,” the minister said. “The Board is firm in its decision. All deals that have taken place during this period have been stayed, no matter how big or small the person involved in it is,” says Ahmed.

For bad things to happen.

All it takes is for good people to look the other way and do nothing

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Daughter Sold for Rs 40,000

Sardhana: This sleepy township, 30 km from Meerut, is in the news after a 20-year-old Muslim girl Raushani was allegedly sold by her father for Rs 40,000 to a 60-year-old man recently. Raushani told the sub-divisional magistrate A.K. Singh that she was leading a happy life with her husband Nazaquat Ali of Nangla Bhanwada village in Muzaffarnagar district following her marriage a year ago, but her father forcibly brought her back to his home. She said her father, Sharafat, got her divorced forcibly to claim the Rs 55,000 from her husband as her “mehar” (alimony) after their divorce.

After getting the money, Raushani alleged that her father decided to sell her to Anees with the consent of her elder brother and other family members. “He could go to any extent for money,” she said. The police said Raushani initially refused to go to Anees, but was forced “as the sale had already taken place.” Sharafat, who belongs to the nearby Panchli village, had allegedly sought his own elder brother’s help to strike the deal. A case has been registered against Sharafat and his other family members, but no arrests have been made so far. According to the police, when Raushani joined Anees in his nearby Bhashani village, he started beating her up for initially refusing to come to him after the deal with her father. Raushani managed to escape from the village and sought shelter in the nearby police station.

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Auto Driver Returns Mobile Phone

Ajaz with his Auto. "Still Humanity stays on this earth"Mumbai : Milind Sorkhade (28), a Kalwa resident, got back his mobile phone worth Rs 25,000 within hours of misplacing it in an autorickshaw recently. Not for a moment did it cross autorickshaw driver Ajaz Akhtar Khan’s (37) mind that he should keep the phone. “I only did my duty,” says an unassuming Khan. Sorkhade, a facade designer from Kalwa, was on his way to a client’s office at Maitri Park, Chembur, when he misplaced his Nokia 7260 in an autorickshaw. Realisation dawned only an hour later. “The phone cost me Rs 25,000 and was equipped with a digital camera,” said Sorkhade. Sorkhade finally dialled his cell number and was surprised when Khan answered the phone. “An hour later, Khan turned up at Chembur Naka and returned the cell phone. Sorkhade offered Khan Rs 100, which he accepted only after much reluctance. A Kurla resident, Khan has been driving on Mumbai’s roads since 1986. With an income of Rs 6,000 per month, he had never even touched a mobile phone, let alone use one. When he discovered the phone in his rickshaw, he returned to Maitri Park hoping to locate Sorkhade. He spoke to a hotel owner and a few residents there.

“They asked me to leave the phone with them, saying they would return it. But I decided to trace the owner myself or hand over the phone to the Nehru Nagar police,” said Khan. When Sorkhade called him on the cell, Khan was in Kurla. He arranged to meet Sorkhade after he dropped off a few school children. When he turned up an hour later, he found Sorkhade pacing up and down in front of Akbarally’s store. “He wished to reward me, but I refused. When he persisted, I took the money and gave a little party to the children I take to school and back home,” he added.

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Best Bakery Nightmare

Ahmedabad: Imtiaz Khan (26) lost his mother and most of his family in the post-Godhra massacre at Gulbarg society which claimed the lives of 42 persons including Congress MP Ehsan Jafri. After the Best Bakery verdict, he is afraid to answer his cell-phone. His friend answers his calls, screens the caller and only when assured that it is not someone from the VHP or the Bajrang Dal, do they hand over the phone to Khan. Such is the fear among the victims who have to testify in cases which are yet to come up for trial. When Islamic Voice got through to Khan, he was still wary. ‘‘We have been asked not to speak to anyone. They could be from the VHP, who knows?’’. Only when reassured, did he manage to say, ‘‘We will stand by our statements. None of us will retract in the Best Bakery case.’’

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"Preserve Secular India"
says Indian Muslims in US

Washington : The first annual meet of a Washington-based advocacy group for Indian Muslims gave a call to counter what it said was the growing influence of “Hindu extremists” in India. The Indian Muslim Council (IMC)-USA convention, the first of its kind, held in Santa Clara, California, on July 1, drew a crowd of about 500 activists, prominent religious and community leaders, political and social activists, researchers and NGOs. The participants presented a detailed analysis of the political and economic strategy of Hindu supremacists and declared that its efforts to divide India would fail. They also called upon on the Indian diaspora in the US. to do their bit to “battle for the soul of India”. The discussions focused on important contemporary issues relating to regional instability, human rights, sectarian violence, militant nationalism and prospects of boosting social amity in India.

The Godhra riots in Gujarat last year and the alleged official compliance in the communal violence were also highlighted at the convention, according to an IMC press release.

Praful Bidwai, a prominent journalist and political commentator in India, said that attempts to destroy India’s secular democracy would fail. He backed his prediction with the fact that an overwhelming majority of India’s national newspapers lamented the BJP’s electoral victory in Gujarat. John Prabhudoss, executive director of the Policy Institute for Religion and State, a Washington-based think tank, spoke about the need for joint efforts to counter the influence of Hindu extremists on Capitol Hill and the establishment of a framework of cooperation among secular and plural minded groups.

Father Cedric Prakash, director of Prashant, a Jesuit Centre of Human Rights, Justice and Peace in Gujarat, forewarned people not to develop amnesia about the Gujarat violence. Shaik Ubaid, president of IMC-USA, reassured Prakash that IMC-USA would continue to work to bring all religious and secular groups together to promote pluralism in India.

Awards named after great Indian Muslims were presented in various categories. The award for “Best in-depth coverage of the Indian diaspora” was awarded to Rukmini Callimachi of the Daily Herald of Illinois for her series on the Indian diaspora living in suburban Chicago.

“A convention like this is very important in terms of outreach and in terms of sending a message that we are present and we are growing,” said Angana Chatterji, an anthropology professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco.

Indo-Asian News Service

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Talimi Bedaari Campaign in Rajasthan

By Staff Writer

Jaipur: Five months after its appointment as a government body, the Rajasthan Madrassa Board has established its permanent office here and launched an ambitious two-month-long “Talimi Bedaari” (education awareness) campaign to modernise madrassas. Rajasthan is the seventh state in the country to establish a Madrassa Board. The Congress government in the state has appointed a former civil servant, Alauddin Azad as the Chairman of the Madrassa Board. Speaking to Islamic Voice, Azad asserted that the establishment of the Board as a government institution would counter the false propaganda about madrassas being the breeding ground for terrorism and haven for the ISI agents. The “Talimi Bedaari” campaign of the Board was inaugurated by the chief minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot, at his official residence by releasing a colourful poster in the presence of about 1,000 children from various madrassas and schools. The posters are being distributed and pasted on walls in large numbers in the Muslim-dominated localities across the state to motivate the children to join the literacy march. The children chanted the slogan, “Iqra, Iqra, Padho, Padho, Madrassa Chalo, School Chalo” (Read and join the march to madrassas and schools).

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PEOPLE

Obituary

Hafiz Ghulam Siddique Sait

Hafiz Ghulam Mohammad Siddique SaitHis established "Jamia Ashrafia School"

Bangalore: Noted social worker Hafiz Ghulam Mohammad Siddique Sait passed away here on July 10. He was 77. Though Siddique Sait led the Jamiatul-Ulema-e-Hind in Karnataka for nearly six years, he distinguished himself as a humble social worker who devoted himself with zeal and dedication to Jamia Ashrafia School which he established in Devarajeevan Halli slums in the eastern part of Bangalore in 1988. The school today has 800 boys and girls, all belonging to the socially blighted sections of the society. It was initially set up in a commercial area and later shifted to the slums as a deliberate plan to promote education among the socially under-privileged sections of Muslims. He travelled everyday from his house in a decent downtown locality to the slums in order to see that the school for the disadvantaged sections came up to certain standards. Siddique Sait was above caste, community and religion when it came to social welfare. He also founded the Jamiatul Ansar to help the destitutes, widows, and students. He also served as peshimam in Baidwadi Mosque for nearly 20 years and later in Sultan Shah Mosque for nearly six years. Sait is survived by his widow, six sons and three daughters.

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